The time the FBI thought Whitey Bulger was a 94-year-old Black man and more never-before-reported G-man boondoggles
er and the FBI that you’ve never heard, and it would be even more humorous if it didn’t illustrate yet again how cosmically, comically incompetent the G-men are.
This is a story about Whitey Bulger and the FBI that you’ve never heard, and it would be even more humorous if it didn’t illustrate yet again how cosmically, comically incompetent the G-men are.
In December 2004 the feds believed they had finally tracked down the mob kingpin who’d had six of the Boston office’s “special agents” on his payroll while he was on his multi-state serial killing-cocaine dealing-bank robbing-extortion spree.
A decade after being tipped off to his impending arrest by one of his hired FBI hands, their quarry was now holed up in Natchez, Mississippi. Or so the credulous feds believed.
The intrepid sleuths even had Whitey’s address and “agents conducted a discreet surveillance of the residence.”
The FBI thought they had Whitey … finally!
They had that big stakeout going on, just like they were about to pinch John Dillinger … or Roger Stone. They were doing sneaky stuff just like Efrem Zimbalist Jr., peering at his hideout through their government-issue binoculars, probably from a surveillance van with untraceable plates.
They were getting ready to put on their blue ski parkas with “FBI” stenciled in big letters across the back. They were ready for their close-ups.
Whitey’s new alias? “Erin Williams.”
Alas, when the feds rushed the house, they made a discovery.
The following is all from the FBI’s own reports, which the G-men are ever so grudgingly turning over to this newspaper.
“On 12/20/2004, Erin Williams was contacted at his residence … Williams is described as a black male, DOB 08/17/1910.”
What an ingenious disguise! Whitey was masquerading as a 94-year-old black man!
But wait, there was still more to Whitey’s dastardly ruse.
“Williams is an elderly man who has been blind for approximately 40 years.”
Looking on the bright side, at least Ray Charles had died six months earlier, or the FBI might have pinched him too in their big round up in Natchez.
The feds’ report continued: “Williams has limited mobility but is coherent and intelligible.”
The agents were of course baffled by how they could have mistaken a blind 94-year-old black man for a dangerous melanin-impaired mass murderer with the moniker “Whitey.”
According to their report, what had led them astray was that someone had been using Whitey’s real Social Security number (SSAN in FBI lingo) to apply for credit cards to be sent to the blind 94-year-old black man’s house.
Williams patiently explained to the Keystone Kops how the mix up might have occurred:
“The neighborhood is a mixture of black and white residents but in the past was predominantly white. He offered this information as a possible explanation as to why his address was utilized in connection with Bulger’s SSAN.”
Despite everything, the G-men still weren’t totally convinced that “Erin Williams” and “James J. Bulger Jr.” weren’t the same person. They are, after all, law-enforcement professionals.
“A protective sweep of the residence was conducted to ensure no one else was present.”
See, the feds were also looking for a woman. They had it on good authority — from a TV show called “America’s Most Wanted” — that Whitey had been traveling with a much younger bottle-blonde moll named Catherine Greig.
And the feds had learned, from their discreet surveillance, that a much younger woman lived with “Erin Williams.”
Oh sure, the old codger claimed the woman was his daughter, but you know the FBI. They leave no stone unturned, except the one the person of interest is hiding under. Does the name Ray Epps ring a bell?
Finding no one else in the house after the protective sweep, the feds roared off in their surveillance van at a high rate of speed just in case Catherine Greig hadn’t already lammed.
“On 12/20/2004, (the daughter) was contacted at her place of employment, Shoney’s Restaurant in Natchez MS.”
Did the G-men all order Big Boys? Those double burgers were always my favorite at Shoney’s.
After positively identifying the waitress as “a black female,” and thus most likely not Catherine Greig, she “was shown a copy of the wanted flyers depicting both subjects.”
Guess what. She had no idea who Whitey and Catherine were.
And, er, that’s about it. But this wasn’t the first “sighting” of Whitey in Mississippi in 2004. Four months earlier, on the Gulf Coast, in Bay St. Louis, the FBI reported that “another Inspector … saw an individual that looks like Bulger walking a long-haired Golden Labrador retriever on the Beach in the old town area.”
Whitey at the time was 75 years old. He had previously owned miniature black French poodles.
Really, how likely was it that he would suddenly decide to switch to a much larger breed, especially when he was on the run?
But this was how desperate the FBI had become, after futilely tracking their former paymaster for a decade.
They had given a wily fugitive with $50 million cash an 18-month head start before they even began seriously looking for him. They dragged their wingtips, for obvious reasons.
If they’d lugged him before the trail grew frigid, he might have started talking … about how he had six of the agents in Boston on his payroll. About how two of them had been directly involved in organized-crime hits in at least three different states.
And I’m just hitting the tip of the corruption iceberg here.
Anyway, after Whitey became a fugitive, the FBI gave him a good leaving alone. For more than a year no feds even bothered to ask his ex-girlfriend what alias he was using – Thomas F. Baxter.
If they had, Whitey would have been grabbed in 1995, because he was stopped for speeding twice that year while using that fake Baxter driver’s license.
Ten years later, the feds were spinning their wheels, running down one dead-end lead after another. This was one of them.
The FBI has promised us the entire Bulger file … someday. So perhaps six months or a year from now, we can tell you about the feds’ next dragnet after Natchez.
Did the FBI ever mistake Stevie Wonder for Whitey Bulger? Stay tuned.